By Ricky Chelette, Executive Director
“I’m tired of this,” he said, exasperated. “I don’t think any of this stuff is working! If I am going to be continually faced with these temptations, why don’t I just be gay?”
The devil is persistent. The Bible warns us in the very first pages of scripture that “sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it” (Gen. 4:7). We tend to believe our struggles will simply disappear as we decide to follow Jesus. The fact is, however, they are more likely to increase.
Before knowing Jesus, we’re in the devil’s camp. We’re doing things that benefit him, serving him: we’re not threats. That all changes when we encounter the saving grace of the cross. That’s when we begin to turn from sin—and when the devil begins to work a whole lot harder to make that sin appealing.
Though the devil is not all knowing, he is observant and cunning. He sees the weaknesses of our flesh, and he is keen to craft ideal situations to tempt us to sin. Every temptation is designed by Satan to trick you into believing that you can trust in the temporal more than the eternal. Every temptation is designed to make you think you can somehow meet your own needs, in your own way, and find more fulfillment there than when you trust in Christ. Every temptation is crafted to cause you to believe more in yourself than you do in the Creator you vow you to love and obey.
Jesus experienced just such temptations. He felt the pull of his flesh just as we do, but he knew true joy, true happiness, and true fulfillment can never be found in temporal pleasures or quick fixes, but only in fellowship with a Holy Father who loves us.
Luke 4 tells us about Jesus’ temptation. Surprise: Jesus wins! But despite Jesus’ victory over temptation, the devil was not finished with Him. The Scripture clearly states, “he [the devil] departed from him [Jesus] until an opportune time” (Luke 4:13). In other words, Jesus won the moment, but the devil would be back. He would try again to get Jesus to deny the Father and embrace His flesh. We see it clearly in the moments when Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane and again on the cross. Jesus’ flesh would cry for relief, but His love for the Father was greater than His need for relief. Despite the temptations, He would be found faithful.
Are you ready for a long battle with your flesh? We are mistaken if we think following Jesus is an instant relief for the temptations we face. It is not. The devil is waiting and watching patiently for just the right moment when he can present what you think you want, so that he can instead give you what you should fear most – separation from the Father. Don’t believe the lies. And don’t be discouraged by the temptation. In fact, allow the temptation to be an encouragement to you. Think of it as evidence that you belong to Jesus and that you are a threat to the devil. If you are never tempted, it would mean that you were in Satan’s hands. You’re not.
“Opportune times” for Satan to tempt us will come. But Jesus has promised us this: “greater is He that is in you than He that is in the world” (1 Jn. 4:4). He has also promised that He will never leave you or forsake you (Deut. 31:6, 8; Heb. 13:5). We need to believe that when temptation strikes: that He is with us, and He is better.
How are you fighting against the temptations Satan presents you? Are you disappointed that you are still tempted? Can you see how your temptations can be a source of encouragement, leading you to deeper dependence upon Jesus? Ask the Father for His strength to resist the devil’s lies and embrace the Way, the Truth and the Life!